Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest in shakedown at Rally Mexico this morning, as Volkswagen set a strong pace through the opening gravel action of the 2014 season.
Latvala, who leads the WRC after winning in Sweden last month, was fastest by 1.1sec in his Polo R through the dusty 6.27km Llano Grande stage.
The Finn posted his best time on his fourth run and at one point Volkswagen was on course for a 1-2-3. However, Citroen’s Kris Meeke went second fastest on his fourth and final run to move ahead of Sebastien Ogier by 0.9sec, with Andreas Mikkelsen a further 0.5sec behind.
“Generally I feel in the groove with the car,” said Latvala. “Tyre wear was OK and this was a good way to get started. The stage had a narrow, technical section and a high speed part so it was a good sample of the actual rally, good preparation.”
Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen completed the top six. Robert Kubica was eighth in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the Pole showing no ill effects after a road accident during yesterday’s recce.
Chris Atkinson was ninth in his first taste of Hyundai’s i20, the Australian completing five runs through the stage. The only other WRC driver to complete five passes was Mexico’s Benito Guerra, who was 10th, 1.2sec behind Atkinson.
The times for the WRC drivers were:
1. Jari-Matti Latvala 3min 53.6sec
2. Kris Meeke + 1.1
3. Sebastien Ogier + 2.0
4. Andreas Mikkelsen + 3.5
5. Mads Ostberg + 3.6
6. Mikko Hirvonen + 4.6
7. Thierry Neuville + 6.5
8. Robert Kubica + 7.9
9. Chris Atkinson + 9.2
10. Benito Guerra + 11.4
11. Martin Prokop + 16.9
12. Elfyn Evans + 17.8